If you like Central European/Slavic cuisines and are looking for something new to cook at home, then look no further! In this article, we’ll share our favorite kifli recipe and plus, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this delicious bread roll (that actually precedes the famous French croissant), including its origins, variations, preparation tips, and much more. But first things first…
What Is Kifli?
Kifli or kipfel is a traditional yeast bread roll that is rolled and formed into a crescent before baking. Kifli is a common traditional light yeast roll that is prevalent in the eastern and central parts of Europe (even though regional names might differ). Kifli are traditionally prepared during big holidays like Christmas, Easter, New Years’, etc. Many people believe that the French croissant was the original inspiration for this bread as both breads have very similar shapes but that’s actually not the case, which brings us to our next point…
Origin Of Kifli
There are a lot of different theories about the exact origins of Kifli but most of them are not confirmed. We know for a fact that the traditional kifli recipe is native to Hungary from where it spread through many other neighboring countries. One of the most popular myths about the origin of kifli is linked to the freeing of Buda from Ottoman occupation in the 17th century. After the liberation of the city, bakers celebrated the victory over the Ottomans by selling freshly-baked, crescent-shaped bread rolls.
Another theory claims that kifli (or kipfel) was also present across the Austrian empire a couple of centuries before the liberation of Budapest. And it’s true, the term kipfel or kifli is mentioned in many medieval scripts dating back as early as the 10th century. The term Panis Lunatis is also mentioned in a 10th-century book that lists some of the popular dishes eaten in that era. It refers to a crescent-shaped roll often eaten during fasts.
This means that kifli have been around way before the “invention” of the French croissant. In this case, it’s evident that French bakers used the traditional kifli recipe as inspiration for the croissant that France prides itself with even today. They just changed the name to croissant to refer to the bread roll’s crescent shape, slightly modified the ingredients, and voila!
Because kifli is widely consumed in Hungary, Germany, Austria, and many Slavic countries, there are many local variations of kifli. Here’s an exact list of all the local kifli variations and their names:
- Hungary- Kifli
- Lombardy- Kipfl
- Austria- Kipferl or Kupfel
- Switzerland- Gipfel
- Germany- Hornchen
- Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine- Rogal/ Rogalik
- Czech Republic, Slovakia- Rohlik/Rozok
- Romania- Cornulet
- Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Bulgaria– Kifla
- Slovenia- Rogljicek
- Albania- Kifle
In addition to the local variations, there are also three main variations of the kifli recipe; regular, fine, and sweet.
The regular kifli variety is a simple yeast bread roll without any filling. It’s only slightly brushed with water and an egg and sprinkled with poppy/caraway seeds. This type of kifli is usually eaten fresh, similarly to a baguette, is made into a sandwich, or topped with jam/honey.
The main difference between fine and regular kifli recipe is in the texture and the filling. The fine variation often consists of an additional quantity of butter and milk and sometimes has a feeling, most often tiny pieces of cheese.
Last but not least, we have the sweet variation. Sweet kifli can be made dry with sugar or stuffed with jam or cream and/or topped with powdered sugar or vanilla (these taste similar to the popular Balkan dessert known as vanilice). In Germany, sweet kifli are differentiated with the world kipferl as opposed to the “regular” kipfel. In parts of Germany, the dough is also made of ground nuts instead of flour to give it a sweeter flavor.
In Hungary and Central Europe, kifli is usually consumed on its own as a light snack or as breakfast alongside some jam and/or butter and many people eat them alongside a cup of coffee in the morning. In the Balkan region, however, kifli are also a big part of local cuisine.
Many people in the Balkans also eat kifli for breakfast (with the main difference being Balkan kifli are usually filled with cheese) alongside a glass of yogurt or ayran but they can also be used as a substitute for bread. For example, in the Balkans, you can see kifli being served alongside some ajvar or pindjur, tavce gravce, sarma, some local stews like shkembe chorba or even pasticada.
A Few Things You May Need
- 400 g flour
- 1/2 yeast cube (around 20g)
- 2 eggs
- 200 Milliliters Yogurt
- 200 Milliliters Milk
- 100 g Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Salt
- 5 Tablespoons Sunflower Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- Sesame seeds
- 150 g Crumbled Feta Cheese
- 1 Cup Warm Water
- 10 g Baking Soda
1. Take a large bowl and add yeast, sugar, and water, stir, and let it stay for 10-15
2. In a separate bowl, add the flour, make a hole in the middle, and fill it with milk, yogurt, eggs, oil, and salt.
3. Add the yeast mixture from step 1 to the flour mixture and mix it well.
4. Start kneading the dough (it shouldn’t be too sticky nor too dry). If you want to, you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
5. Spray some cooking spray and sprinkle some flour in your mixing bowl, move the dough there, cover it and keep it aside.
6. Make small cuts in the crust and keep it aside for 20-30 minutes.
7. Add some shredded feta cheese to a bowl and keep it aside for later.
8. Turn on your oven to 200˚C (400˚F).
9. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface and fold the dough on all sides.
10. Divide the dough into half and cut both halves into three equal pieces. Fold the pieces into balls before rolling them.
11. Take the first ball and roll it out into a medium-sized circle.
12. Cut the ball into 2-3 equal pieces, add 1 tbsp of cheese in the middle of every piece, and close the first kifla by pulling together the widest parts of the dough and tucking them inwards.
13. Repeat the process as many times as needed and add some baking sheets to your pan before placing the kifli inside the oven.
14. In the meantime, mix together 1 or 2 beaten eggs and water until the mixture combines.
14. After 7-8 minutes of baking at 200˚C (400˚F) before glazing the kifli with a mix of beaten eggs and water.
15. Bake for 10 more minutes and sprinkle some sesame seeds before turning the heat off (in the end, the kifli should have a golden-brown color).
16. Serve it with some yogurt, ajvar, or a dish of your choice, and enjoy!
Serving Size:100 Grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 363Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 350mgCarbohydrates: 39gNet Carbohydrates: 39gFiber: 1.5gSugar: 2.1gProtein: 11g
Did you ever try kifli? Which variety is your favorite? Did you like our recipe? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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